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A Missouri House committee has unanimously passed legislation that would remove confusing language from a new state law regarding the use of social media between teachers and students.

The bill was passed last week by the Missouri Senate.  It’s being handled in the House by State Representative Chris Kelly (D, Columbia).

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Missouri senators have overwhelmingly passed a bill revising a new law that restricts teachers' online conversations with students.

The legislation would repeal a law barring teachers from using websites that give "exclusive access" to students, such as sending private messages on Facebook. Senators voted 33-0 Wednesday to send the bill to the House.

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The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation revising a contentious new state law that limits teacher communications with students over the Internet.

The bill given initial approval Monday would repeal a law barring teachers from using websites that give "exclusive access" to students. The provision already had been temporarily blocked by a judge last month because of free-speech concerns.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri State Senator who sponsored the measure strictly limiting teacher-student contact via Facebook and other social media has filed legislation she says will clear up any confusion over the new law.

The issue was added Tuesday to the call of the special session by Governor Jay Nixon (D), but in his call the governor only stipulated that the language in question be removed, not replaced with new language.

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Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from the Missouri State Teachers Association and Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham, the sponsor of the original bill which became law

From Todd Fuller of the Missouri State Teachers Association:

“It’s a sigh of relief for all teachers throughout the state who use social media, and it allows them to continue to use it in the positive way that they’re already using it and continue to interact with their students the way they have been.”

From Missouri State Sen.  Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, who sponsored the bill.  She acknowledges that there’s been confusion over what the restrictions will and won’t do, and says she has a solution:

“We have come up with some language that we feel like is ready to go…we don’t need to punt for more input, (I’m) not opposed to it, but we’ve got some agreed upon language with the stakeholders and we’re ready to clarify that language.”

Updated 1:11 p.m. with Gov. Nixon's action

Gov. Jay Nixon says he will add the teacher Internet issue to the agenda for a special legislative session that begins Sept. 6. Nixon says he wants lawmakers to repeal the new law.

His Friday announcement came shortly after a Missouri judge issued a preliminary injunction (see below) blocking the law from taking effect as scheduled on Sunday.

Updated 11:32 a.m. with link to full ruling

A Missouri judge has blocked a law restricting Internet communications between teachers and students from taking effect Sunday.

(You can read the full ruling here).

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction against the law Friday, calling it a staggering prohibition of free speech rights.

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Mo. Gov. Nixon signed SB54, also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, into law in July - making national news regarding some of the bill's provisions on educators and social media.

Now the law is being challenged in court by the Missouri State Teachers Association.

A law signed into law last month in Missouri is making waves nationally, this week. A small part of the wide-ranging SB54, makes it illegal for teachers to be "friends" with students on any social networking site that allows private communication.

That means teachers and students can't be friends on Facebook or can't follow each other on Twitter for example.

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